Thursday, 30 July 2015

Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm- Rebecca Raisin BLOG TOUR

The Blurb

Lucy would do anything for her mom…but she never expected to end up promising to leave her. After her mom got sick, Lucy dropped everything to take care of her, working all hours in a greasy diner just to make ends meet and spending every spare moments she had by her mom’s hospital bedside.

Now, Lucy is faced with a whole year of living by her own rules, starting by taking the first bus out of town to anywhere…

Except she didn’t expect to find her next big adventure just around the corner! Especially when on her first day in town she bumps into grumpy, but oh-so-delicious Clay amidst the maple trees. Surrounded by the magic of Ashford, Lucy has the chance to change her life forever and finally discover a life she wants to live!

The Review

I've been a big fan of Rebecca Raisin's since reading the first Gingerbread Café book back in 2013, and I've been so excited for the release of Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm!  There's something so comforting about Rebecca's writing, and I love snuggling down and losing myself in her heart-warming stories.

When I started reading this one, I noticed a shift in style from Rebecca's other books.  The beginning of  Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm is still very much centred around family life with Lucy unsure of whether to pursue her dream of going to study art in Paris or staying home to care for her sick mother, but it felt much more serious from the off, more weighty somehow, than the other books in the Once in a Lifetime series.

Lucy ends up agreeing to a year out, where she'll learn to live without the strains of caring for her Mum.  Boarding the bus, she ends up in Ashford (Yay!  The home of the Gingerbread Café series!) and she immediately fits into the community.  Meeting the lovely Lil and everyone's favourite confidante CeeCee, she is quickly accepted as one of the girls.  However, it's reclusive Clay, the mysterious maple syrup farmer that gets to know Lucy best.  Working long, tiring days together, the pair often frustrate each other-but deep down there's a chemistry that can't be ignored...

Of course, Lucy can't switch off from her responsibilities back home, so the plot is built around her worrying about her Mums health and yet loving the freedom that Ashford brings.  She learns new skills, builds solid friendships and revels in comfort of the close-knit community, but it's Clay and the farm that inspire her.  After finding an old sketchbook hidden away, presumably belonging to Clay's late uncle, Lucy finds her love of art is renewed, her paintings now more vibrant and open. She longs to know more about the owner of the sketchbook, but it seems the men of Maple Syrup Farm have a habit of keeping themselves to themselves...  This gentle mystery added to the plot and the writings in the sketchbook had my romantic heart all aflutter!

I found myself enjoying this book more as it went on.  The interactions between Lucy and Clay were humorous and added light relief after the moving mother/daughter plot line, and Ashford remains as homely and welcoming as it always has been- almost a character in itself, I love that place. 

Overall, I was surprised- I never would have expected a book about tree tapping for syrup to have me hooked, but Rebecca Raisin managed it! This feels like a transitional novel for her.  It's longer than her previous releases, with some deeper-running storylines and more twists.  However, it worked well and proves that Rebecca Raisin can tackle these more serious themes.  That said, I do love the way she portrays friendship best of all, and Lucy's interactions with the residents of Ashford were my highlight- I'm always left wanting to hug my closest friends after reading these books!

Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm is out now, published by Carina UK.

With thanks to the publisher who provided me with a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion. 

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